Punjab’s First Sikh University- high ambitions, and many obstacles

The Sri Guru Granth Sahib World University, a project that has the potential to be groundbreaking, was announced in September 2004. As its currently being presented, its quite an ambitious project. From announcements, it seems that at least in its planning phases, a truly comprehensive education will beggswu__model.jpg offered.

Contrary to popular perception, the university will be in keeping with modern times and trends, and besides a school of religious and civilisation studies, the institution will also have a school of emerging technologies, school of basic sciences, school of management, school of social sciences, school of arts, school of languages, school of engineering, school of architecture and planning and school of law and social justice.

Talking to TNS, university vice-chancellor Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia said the varsity would neither be religion-based or religion-dominated. The university would take up the teaching of emerging technologies like information technology (IT), biotechnology (BT) and nano-technology, besides other emerging disciplines like ecology, human rights, feminism and empowerment of downtrodden, he said. [link]

The proposed university’s forward-looking goals make me hope that it actually materializes. It strives to address the role that Sikhi should and does play in the 21st century.

Contemporary Sikhism and Sikh Community need, today, authentic interpretation and projection of Sikh doctrine, Sikh ethics, Sikh history, Sikh way of life, as well as socialPhilosophy of Sikh religion. Though there are a large number of institutions and centersFor Sikh Studies, but with certain exceptions, these lack co-ordination, linkages and above all authenticity of interpretation, with the result that during the last five decades or more a lot of Sikh intellectual energy has been wasted on issues raised with a bias and tendentious orientation. Many international Sikh conferences arranged by the Sikh Community and scholars both in India and abroad, (particularly of North America) have brought out many doctrinal issues for debate, and presented authentic and clear evidence regarding independent doctrine and uniqueness of Sikhism. The proposed University would strive to project authentic doctrinal sovereignty, that is l, [sic] doctrinal originality and identity as new, distinctive revealed religion. [link]

The modern challenges to Sikh identity also gave impetus to this planned institution:

The Sikh society is today facing unprecedented challenges arising out of its consciousness about its distinct self identity; this requires intellectual inputs for the Sikh society to ensure its significant place in the comity of the communities of the world; the requisite ideational inputs would be one of the imperatives of proposed University. [link]

Hopefully it will attract students of diverse interests, as well as create multi-dimensional graduates. The proposed inter-disciplinary studies of Sikhism, at a glance (by their titles) sound really interesting.

ADVANCED STUDIES IN SIKHISM

The proposed University would be of research cum teaching nature in respect of all aspects of Sikhism; the following aspects of Sikhism and Sikh praxis have been identified consultation with scholars of Sikhism in India and abroad.

1. Sikh Philosophy (Ontology, Epistemology).
2. Sikh Ethics.
3. Social Philosophy of Sikhism.
4. The Banikars of Sri Guru Granth Sahib( Sikh Gurus, Hindu Saints, Muslim Sufis, Gursikhs).
5. Sikh history with particular reference to sources (contemporaneous Persian and others) on Sikh History.
6. Sikh Music.
7. Sikh Linguistics.
8. Sikh Holy Shrines and Historical Places associated with Sikhism.
9. Sikh Architecture.
10. Sikh Aesthetics.
11. Sikh Paintings.
12. Sikh Ceremonies.
13. Sikh way of life.
14. Sikh Martial Arts.
15. Sikh Diaspora.
16. Sikh Sikhism and inter religious Dialogue.
17

Universal Concerns of Sikhism in relation to the present day challenges and imperatives (Ecology; Human Rights; Feminism; Empowerment of the Dalits; Religious, Social and Political Pluralism etc.).

18.

Role of Sikhism in the emerging third millennium civilization and in evolving multi civilisational dispensation.

19. Translation of the Sacred Bani in major languages of the world.
20. Creation of all inclusive website on Sikhism.
21.

Preparation of Audio/Video tapes, CDs, DVDs,VCDs, TV, Films and other multi media material for propagation of Sikhism.

[link]

While in theory, the plans of the university seem well thought out, I’m wary of whether and how it’ll actually materialize. Will it be a campaign promise, only to inch forward as elections approach?

A real problem may be the level of control that Badal seems to have over this university (he sits on the 11 member Trust that will manage the university, and recently set the foundation stone). [link] Who will staff the faculty; who will construct, contribute to the discussion of what Sikhi means in the 21st century? If the university is overly influenced by political agendas, and historical accuracy is sacrificed for political gain, and independent ideas are unable to grow and be debated, then this may just lead to political propaganda, dressed as ‘knowledge’ or ‘truth,’ which would be seriously problematic.

If you think I’m being too cynical, then let me point out that right now there are a lot of promises that may prove impossible to fulfill. Officials claim that the first session of the university will begin in 2009, while construction has begun on …. one set of stairs. [link]

You can take a picture of a set of stairs from many angles, but it’s still just one set of stairs.

SGGSWU.jpg

SGGSWU_2.jpgSGGSWU_3.jpg


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17 Responses to “Punjab’s First Sikh University- high ambitions, and many obstacles”

  1. whatsinaname says:

    Great!

    But what's with the dome on the building? What's the significance? I don't understand why it keeps re-occuring when nobody is able to explain the relevence.

    In Islamic architecture it was the conceptual space between the earth and the heavens. This may be why in gurdwara buildings the dome is always positioned above the tabia / padvi / palki of Guru maharaj. What't the dome doing on a university? Will there be a prakash of Guru Granth Sahib there?

  2. whatsinaname says:

    Great!

    But what’s with the dome on the building? What’s the significance? I don’t understand why it keeps re-occuring when nobody is able to explain the relevence.

    In Islamic architecture it was the conceptual space between the earth and the heavens. This may be why in gurdwara buildings the dome is always positioned above the tabia / padvi / palki of Guru maharaj. What’t the dome doing on a university? Will there be a prakash of Guru Granth Sahib there?

  3. S Singh says:

    Domes are a symbolic architecture built on top of most Gurudwaras and this upcoming university is mainly based on Sikh teachings and it is the most fitting that A Dome Should Be be on top of it as this university itself won't be no less than a Gurudwara.

  4. S Singh says:

    Domes are a symbolic architecture built on top of most Gurudwaras and this upcoming university is mainly based on Sikh teachings and it is the most fitting that A Dome Should Be be on top of it as this university itself won’t be no less than a Gurudwara.

  5. whatsinaname says:

    Yes but what do they symbolise in Sikh Architecture… and therefore are they relevant to all types of buildings. If they are simply an icon then why do they exist?

    It's not a criticism, it's merely an observation.

    A university is the equivalent to the house of the guru? Provided it's all in synch with Guru Granth sahib ji's teachings… I suppose that's acceptable.

    ps. 'won't be no less' is bad English 😛

  6. whatsinaname says:

    Yes but what do they symbolise in Sikh Architecture… and therefore are they relevant to all types of buildings. If they are simply an icon then why do they exist?

    It’s not a criticism, it’s merely an observation.

    A university is the equivalent to the house of the guru? Provided it’s all in synch with Guru Granth sahib ji’s teachings… I suppose that’s acceptable.

    ps. ‘won’t be no less’ is bad English 😛

  7. wait this isn't the first sikh university…

    i believe that the Kalgidhar Trust started the first Sikh University.

  8. wait this isn’t the first sikh university…
    i believe that the Kalgidhar Trust started the first Sikh University.

  9. Reema says:

    Gurvinderpal,

    The university established by the Kalgidhar Trust is in Himachal Pradesh, as is Baru Sahib.

    The focus and goals of that university are very different (at least in my eyes, from what I can tell so far from the proposal) than the one planned/being built in Fategarh Sahib.

    The Kalgidhar Trust's university doesn't attempt to enhance the knowledge of Sikhi and Sikh culture, philosophy, architecture, history, etc., or consciously examine and teach about Sikhi's role in the 21st century with a goal for establishing a modern identity/knowledge base about Sikhism itself. The Kalgidhar Trust's university was built and probably runs according to the teachings of Sikhi, but it's goal is only to offer a quality education to those who otherwise found it inaccessible.

    The goals of GGSWU (defining the Sikh identity, focus on teaching about the religion and associated culture itself) are what I find to be important.

  10. Reema says:

    Gurvinderpal,

    The university established by the Kalgidhar Trust is in Himachal Pradesh, as is Baru Sahib.

    The focus and goals of that university are very different (at least in my eyes, from what I can tell so far from the proposal) than the one planned/being built in Fategarh Sahib.

    The Kalgidhar Trust’s university doesn’t attempt to enhance the knowledge of Sikhi and Sikh culture, philosophy, architecture, history, etc., or consciously examine and teach about Sikhi’s role in the 21st century with a goal for establishing a modern identity/knowledge base about Sikhism itself. The Kalgidhar Trust’s university was built and probably runs according to the teachings of Sikhi, but it’s goal is only to offer a quality education to those who otherwise found it inaccessible.

    The goals of GGSWU (defining the Sikh identity, focus on teaching about the religion and associated culture itself) are what I find to be important.

  11. Gurinder S. Johal says:

    Will I be able to take classes online?

  12. Gurinder S. Johal says:

    Will I be able to take classes online?

  13. FARMER says:

    [quote comment="5557"]Yes but what do they symbolise in Sikh Architecture… and therefore are they relevant to all types of buildings. If they are simply an icon then why do they exist?

    It's not a criticism, it's merely an observation.

    A university is the equivalent to the house of the guru? Provided it's all in synch with Guru Granth sahib ji's teachings… I suppose that's acceptable.

    ps. 'won't be no less' is bad English :P[/quote]

    ITS REALY IDIOTIC TO POINT OUT SOMBODY ENGLISH ,ITS NOT ENGLISH DEBATE ,I HOPE U HAD BAD CHILDHOOD,OR U BROUGHT UP IN UK .BE RELEVANT ,IT S NOT OUR MOTHER LANGUAGE .I CAN BET U KNOW ONLY ENGLISH ,AND EVERY INDIAN KNOW ATLEAST 3 LANGUAGES ,I KNOW 5 LANGUAGES ,AND I KNOW U WILL BE TRYING TO MAKE OUT MISTAKE IN MY ENGLISH AS WELL, GO ON .

    REGARDING WORLD SIKH UNIVERSITY ,WE WILL MAKE IT HAPPEN ,AM COMMON MAN AND I HAVE BELIEVE IN MYSELF AND MY YOUNG PUNJABI AND INDIAN UNIVERSITY GRADUATED DENERATION WHO BORN AFTER 1975 ,.THANX

  14. FARMER says:

    [quote comment=”5557″]Yes but what do they symbolise in Sikh Architecture… and therefore are they relevant to all types of buildings. If they are simply an icon then why do they exist?

    It’s not a criticism, it’s merely an observation.

    A university is the equivalent to the house of the guru? Provided it’s all in synch with Guru Granth sahib ji’s teachings… I suppose that’s acceptable.

    ps. ‘won’t be no less’ is bad English :P[/quote]
    ITS REALY IDIOTIC TO POINT OUT SOMBODY ENGLISH ,ITS NOT ENGLISH DEBATE ,I HOPE U HAD BAD CHILDHOOD,OR U BROUGHT UP IN UK .BE RELEVANT ,IT S NOT OUR MOTHER LANGUAGE .I CAN BET U KNOW ONLY ENGLISH ,AND EVERY INDIAN KNOW ATLEAST 3 LANGUAGES ,I KNOW 5 LANGUAGES ,AND I KNOW U WILL BE TRYING TO MAKE OUT MISTAKE IN MY ENGLISH AS WELL, GO ON .

    REGARDING WORLD SIKH UNIVERSITY ,WE WILL MAKE IT HAPPEN ,AM COMMON MAN AND I HAVE BELIEVE IN MYSELF AND MY YOUNG PUNJABI AND INDIAN UNIVERSITY GRADUATED DENERATION WHO BORN AFTER 1975 ,.THANX

  15. Wow. That is really and interesting blog I have ever seen. Like I don’t even know that there is such a kind of construction is going on. Now I m surprised to see that Sikhism is really a big religion. And we can do a long degree on that subjects too.

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